The Back Nine comes at you with the countdown to kickoff a real thing now. Of course, which kickoff you’re counting down to depends on your love for the game. Most of you are counting down to FAU in the Swamp which is only 19 days away.
- You know that I have a saying that there is never any good news out of training camp for college teams. Most of them have closed practices, including Florida, so you either find out about an injured player days after it happened (like Jaydon Hill) or you have to believe what coaches and players tell you in Zoom interviews. A perfect example was Florida’s first scrimmage. The word is that the defense dominated the scrimmage and the offensive line struggled. You can take those one of two ways. Either the offensive line is going to be the liability that everyone feared it would be or the defense is going to be really good. Or you could simply say it was the first scrimmage and doesn’t mean anything. So, I guess that is three ways you could take it. My guess (and it’s only a guess) is that it’s a little bit of both and that the defense has something to prove after last season’s embarrassment.
- But it’s also something that goes back to the prevailing thought about the 2021 Gators, that this team will only be as good as its offensive line. And that’s going to be something that won’t be a known commodity for several weeks. You can have Herschel Walker and Bo Jackson in the backfield, but if your line doesn’t give them somewhere to run and the defenses are playing eight in the box, your offense is going to struggle. I think that most teams will dare Emory Jones to throw the ball and we will see what Dan Mullen can scheme up. The goal of any defense is to stop the run first and certainly against Florida that will be the plan.
- And then there was news from a pair of Gator opponents this season. Penn State transfer Will Levis won the job to be the quarterback at Kentucky, which was not a big surprise. So, of course, Joey Gatewood, who was competing for the job, entered the transfer portal. It’s his second time leaving a school (Auburn was the first) because he couldn’t win the job. Also, South Carolina starter Luke Doty suffered a foot injury in Friday practice and South Carolina fans went full South Carolina once the news spread. That woe is me attitude should be part of the fight song. Turns out the injury is not serious. Oh, and there is also the news that tight end Arik Gilbert is not currently with the Georgia team for personal reasons.
- OK, let me have it. I looked like a moron Sunday for Tweeting out that the tailgating for the opening Gator game had been canceled. There was a misunderstanding. I thought it was April Fool’s Day. Nah, I have to take the blame for not making a few phone calls to confirm. Turns out there are a lot of layers to the possibilities of some alumni tailgates being canceled but we’ll know more in the coming days. I’ve only been out of the newspaper business for 8½ months and I’m already slipping. Can I have a Twitter editor?
- The Tim Tebow haters were out in full force after his first game on Saturday. There was the block that they thought was a weak effort even though it was effective and the fact he didn’t catch a pass because the one time he was targeted another Jaguar cut him off to make the reception. Of all the questions I have been asked in the last few weeks, No. 1 is whether or not I think Tebow will make it with the Jags. All I know is that they seem to have a lot of tight ends on that team.
- So, who is having a better year? Mike Zunino, who leads all catchers in baseball with 25 homers and was an All-Star, or Jonathan India, who has 15 homers and is hitting .280 and might be the NL rookie of the year? Either way, it’s great to see the two Gators doing special things.
- Congrats to the three Gators who will be in the FedEx Cup playoffs – Billy Horschel, Brian Gay and Tyler McCumber. Unfortunately, Camilo Villegas just missed the top 125 at No. 130. Man, if karma was working after what Villegas has been through, he’d have made it. By the way, if you didn’t see Chesson Hadley’s emotional interview after his final round (he made the FedEx Cup at No. 125), go and Google it. The guy also made his first ever hole-in one and celebrated the way I did when I made my first one. Except he actually got off the ground when he was jumping in the air.
- The “Florida Four” this week as we get closer to the start of football season, I thought about the most boring opening games for Florida in the last two decades. Not that I expect Florida Atlantic to be a boring game mostly because it’s the first time we won’t have restrictions on a lot of things and Willie Taggart will be on the other sideline. But here are the top four (or bottom four):
2018 – Florida 53, Miami of Ohio 6.
2009 – Florida 62, Charleston Southern 3.
2003 – Florida 65, San Jose St. 3.
And for the No. 1 most boring opener since 2000, you’ll never top Will Muschamp’s final opening game at Florida. Because it was ruled no contest. There was a three-hour rain delay during which the players had to be fed again in the locker rooms and finally a kickoff that was returned 64 yards by Valdez Showers. And then another lightning strike before the game was called at midnight. It was the most boring night of my life and I’ve sat through a lot of regional baseball weather delays.
- I played in the wonderful Sara’s Birthday tournament Saturday at Ironwood and actually holed out a wedge for an eagle on No. 1. It went downhill from there. But there was some great music in the carts. So, here’s your playlist:
* “I Believe” (When I Fall in Love)” by Stevie Wonder.
* “My Little Red Book” by Love.
* I know I’m going a little old school on you but these are some great songs. We’ll get a little more modern with the last one – “She Will Only Bring You Happiness” by Mclusky. Although a song released 17 years ago can’t really be considered modern.